A pandemic offers the perfect opportunity to pull out your self-care toolboxes, especially as so many lives been upended by job loss, illness, separation from loved ones, and many other concerns. But what if you don’t have any idea about how to attempt self-care, much less have a full self-care toolbox on hand?
A good way to start giving yourself the tools to cope with fear, sadness and anxiety — all common during the pandemic — is to create a self-soothe kit. A self-soothe kit allows you to use your five senses to cope during times of emotional stress. Spending time with items that lead to positive feelings has the power to distract you from the negative and focus on the present.
As an added benefit, not only is it an excellent way to practice self-care, but building a self-soothe kit is also a fun and creative project to do while spending lots of time at home.
How to make a self-soothe kit
Feel free to be creative and customize what items you include in your kit to reflect your personal needs and preferences. Consider your five senses and what brings each one a soothing feeling of joy and peacefulness.
What items can you look at to bring yourself a sense of calm or happiness? Perhaps it’s a postcard from your favorite vacation spot or photos of your pet or loved ones. Maybe it’s a list of online links that lead you to your favorite snapshots or funny cat videos. Whether these images bring a smile to your face, make you LOL or simply manage to distract your negative thoughts for a bit, they’ll likely get the feel-good chemicals flowing.
Create a playlist of your favorite songs that lift you up and boost your mood. Not in the mood for music? Listen to an audiobook or guided meditation, or add a note to your kit that lists your favorite places to go to hear the sounds of the surf or birds singing. Sometimes when you’re feeling down, you need little reminders of where to find the things that lift you up.
Your sense of smell is located between the memory and emotion regulation centers in your brain, which is why a scent can often bring back experiences both good and bad. Focus on the good by figuring out which essential oils, hand lotions, perfumes, dried flower-filled sachets, candles or even coffee beans fill you with feelings of love and warmth and add those to your self-soothe kit.
Touch has so much power — the ability to connect people, share love and demonstrate support when there are no words. Touch can also soothe. A smooth rock collected during a peaceful walk, Silly Putty, a fidget spinner, an ice pack, heat pad or a beloved small stuffed animal — include in your self-soothe kit a few items that bring you a sense of peace, or simply distract you from negative thoughts and emotions, when you hold or caress them.
What flavors take you to a happy time or simply shift your attention away from things that feel most stressful? For some, adding a piece of rich chocolate or bag of your favorite tea can do the trick. For others, a spicy mint or stick of gum can provide a sort of shock to the system that brings you into the present moment. Occasionally, a tough time calls for a scoop of your favorite ice cream, favorite fancy coffee drink or even just a juicy piece of fresh fruit. Consider adding a gift card for yourself or a few dollars to your box to use in case you need a special self-soothing treat.
Learn about mental health services at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital and read important COVID-19 information from Sharp.